Are The Hotels You Visit ADA Compliant?

travel accessibility

When the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law in 1990, critics noted that it was vague and some issues could be resolved only by litigation. In an effort to remedy this problem, the Department of Justice revised regulations for Titles II and III and published the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design (2010 Standards) on September 15, 2010.

The compliance date for these standards was March 15, 2012; hotels and motels should therefore be in compliance as you read this. The 2010 Standards cover persons with visual, hearing and mobility impairments, are detailed and specific, and cover areas not previously addressed.

According to Jim Abrams, an attorney with the JMBM Global Hospitality Group, compliance is as much about policies and procedures as it is about construction. For example, hotel operators need to remove communication barriers as well as architectural barriers, and should be familiar with the guidelines for service animals.

The 2010 Standards require that most recreation facilities at hotels—including pools, golf courses and play areas—be accessible, which is an entirely new area of consideration. In addition, hotel websites are now required to be accessible to individuals with disabilities such as sight impairment, hearing impairment, mobility impairment, and developmental and cognitive disabilities.

While most of the dimensions for accessible guestrooms are unchanged, the 2010 Standards have added new compliance requirements which include—but are not limited to– the following:

  • ATMs
  • Washers and Dryers
  • Segways are now considered mobility devices
  • Service animals include only dogs and miniature horses
  • Valet spaces are now included in the parking count

The issues noted above are only a few of the requirements addressed in the 2010 Standards, and are intended to give an idea of the breadth of the revised compliance standards. It is important for hotel operators to be familiar with and in compliance with the 2010 Standards; it’s also important for persons with disabilities to know their rights under the ADA accessibility laws.

If you have questions or need assistance with understanding the 2010 Standards or if you recently stayed in a non-compliant hotel, please contact us.

*Note: In this article the word “hotel” includes both hotels and motels.